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Women at ODU : Builders of Communities & Dreams

Excerpt from:

Oral History Interview with Dr. Dorothy Johnson

Norfolk, Virginia
September 26, 1980 (pages 6-7)
by Vicky Sanderlin, Old Dominion University

Sanderlin: As co-organizer of the Old Dominion University Faculty Women's Caucus and coordinator of the organization from 1974-1975, do you believe that the Women's Caucus has made a positive contribution to the female faculty members?

Johnson: Yes I do. One of the first things that the Faculty Women's Caucus did was to sponsor a study of conditions of faculty women on this campus. We couldn't find out what their salaries were so that we could compare them. We sent around questionnaires, where we asked about salaries and a whole range of matters affecting the well being of faculty women and their opportunities for promotion. This questionnaire indicated very clearly that there were numbers of women on the faculty who felt that they had been discriminated against and that their opportunities were not the same. They also felt that they were judged differently for promotions and salary increases. We had some people from the Math Department, in Statistics, analyze this for us and we took our case to the administration. The administration did not agree with the method of analysis that was used, so this became a point of contention. We did force the administration to make their own study and eventually there was an investigating committee, appointed by the president, to look into conditions of the faculty. There were department chairmen who told me that they were really scared of the Faculty Women's Caucus. I think that we helped to create awareness among faculty and administration, so that they really had to look out for the interests of women. They wanted to do this before we had any really strong people in the administration to look after equal rights.

Sanderlin: Over the years, from your own experience, would you say women have been accorded equal opportunity for advancement at the university?

Johnson : For myself, I think I have, but I've already indicated that our study showed that there were numbers of women on the campus who felt that they had not been accorded equal opportunity. It was a conclusion of the Faculty Women's Caucus, by virtue of the study. It depends on the department chairman or dean of the school, and sometimes, higher officials also. One of the concerns to us was reflected in the administration. There weren't any women in the upper administration.

Full interview with audio.

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